ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) have completed sustainment training at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and have successfully back loaded equipment and personnel to the ships of the Kearsarge Strike Group, continuing on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
After approximately one month of sustainment training geared to refine desert combat skills and provide refresher training for the unit, the 22nd MEU (SOC) loaded the ships USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), USS Ponce (LPD-15), and USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), and readied to continue Maritime Security Operations.
Many of the exercises the unit conducted were geared toward combat operations, countering improvised explosive devices, medical support training, aerial gunnery, and combined arms training, said 22nd MEU (SOC) Commanding Officer Col. Doug Stilwell.
“A Marine Expeditionary Unit must be ready to respond to any contingency or crisis,” said Stilwell. “During our pre-deployment training, we trained for and mastered many mission sets to gain the ‘special operations capable’ designator. My goal for sustainment training was not only to advance our basic combat skills, but also to enhance our abilities across the spectrum of mission sets inherent to Marine Air Ground Task Forces.”
The 22nd MEU (SOC) is currently on a scheduled deployment that began July 31, 2007 when the unit left Camp Lejeune, N.C., aboard the ships of the Kearsarge Strike Group. During the unit’s time in Kuwait, the MEU’s Aviation Combat Element was tasked to support an airlift of approximately 600 airmen and soldiers from the 16th Military Police Brigade out of Camp Bucca, Iraq, to Camp Buehring. The airmen and soldiers were scheduled to rotate back to the United States, when previously scheduled lift assets faced technical issues and were tasked with other missions.
The 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element.